Last updated: October 18, 2009 - 6:35pm
On Friday, 72 House democrats sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski a letter asking the FCC to reconsider a proposal to adopt Network Neutrality rules. Among the members who signed the letter include leaders of the Blue Dog coalition — a group of conservative-leaning Democrats -- and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus. They urge the Commission to "carefully consider the full range of potential consequences of government action," and caution against a too-heavy regulatory regime. "[I]t is our strong belief that continued progress in expanding the reach and capabilities of broadband networks will require the commission to reiterate, not repudiate, its historic commitment to competition, private investment, and a restrained regulatory approach." Putting the term network neutrality in quotes in their letter, they said: "[W]e remain suspicious of conclusions based on slogans rather than substance and policies that restrict and inhibit the very innovation and growth that we all seek to achieve."
Also, 44 companies including Cisco Systems, Corning and Nokia have jumped on the bandwagon to warn that new regulations could hinder investment.
Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn responded saying, "It's a pity that 72 members of the Blue Dog Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus are deserting one of the fundamental planks of President Obama's platform — a free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet. The people who those members of Congress represent are the most at risk from the closed, controlling Internet that the phone and cable companies want. The constituents of these members of Congress have fewest choices of providers and access to the least competition. They have the lowest Internet data speeds, they have the diminished opportunity to use the Web to its fullest potential. They are being betrayed. In parroting the misinformation put forward by the big telecom companies, The Blue Bell Caucus only condemns their constituents to inferior service and limited opportunities to succeed in an Internet-based economy."
Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott said, "We want to remind members of Congress and the other lawmakers that have come out of the woodwork this week to question Net Neutrality, that the benefits of a free and open Internet to free speech, economic innovation and democratic participation are absolutely invaluable to their constituents in the digital age. Further, this is merely the beginning of a process, not the end. Their concerns are precisely the kind of issues that the FCC is prepared to debate and discuss in its rulemaking. It should move forward as planned. This is a case of special interests versus real Americans. More than 1.6 million Americans have called for an open Internet, and their numbers are growing every day. The Obama administration, FCC Chairman Genachowski, FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders have echoed the public's call with strong support for Net Neutrality. We can't afford to lose sight of the hundreds of millions of Internet users for whom Net Neutrality will protect free speech and commerce online. They are not lobbyists, and they don't have deep pockets and PACs. But they are citizens that depend on conscientious policymakers looking out for their best interest. The rulemaking next week at the FCC is a chance for all sides to weigh in on the debate, and the FCC must not allow pressure from the industry to get in the way of doing the right thing and securing an open Internet for all."
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- FCC Open Meeting (October 2009)
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